As I’m getting closer to unleashing Real Music for Unreal Times, I’ve had a bit more time to think about what the heck have I actually done…

The album consists of two elements (as hinted in the title). There’s spontaneous, improvised, raw musical performance and then there’s the reverb, which was created live in the studio. What does a reverb signify? Usually it is used to enhance the sound recording and make the dry studio recording breathe a bit more. In the case of this recording, we created an ”unreal” acoustic setting live in the studio by using convolution technology.

The acoustics are a product of architecture, which is a product of culture — practical, philosophical and religios ideas have formed the way we create our buildings. Everyone knows how the interior of a big church sounds. The long reverb makes even tiniest sounds seem omnipresent. Details of the sounds disappear, blurred sounds hover in the space forever and the magnifying/ampliftying effect of the acoustics direct people towards whispering instead of speaking aloud. Even though the reverb might not have been a product of acoustic design of old churches, it can easily be argued that a reverb has a symbolic meaning. ”With sound arriving from all directions, the space created a listening experience […], where reverberation enveloped the listened with the grandeur of God’s voice.” (Blesser, Salter, 2007)

On my album the acoustics are ”unreal” in the sense that the reverb is not the actual reverb of the recording space. But the acoustics are a vivid live recreation of the acoustics in Solovetsky monastery. With the setup we created, I could play with the acoustics as I would do if I had played in natural acoustics of a space. The reverb you hear on the album was recorded with the microphones at the same time with my expression. In that way, it is also as ”real” as the sound of my instrument.

The history of Solovetsky creates an interesting twist to the reverb. For decades, during the Soviet era, the stone walls reverberated anything but ”the grandeur of God’s voice”. The acoustics belonged now to a prison camp and most likely did not surround its habitants with feelings of peace and hope…

As an extension of architecture, the reverb seems to carry whatever meanings we project to it. Even though on some aspects the reverb of a bank might resemble that of a cathedral (both representing power and majesty), we give them different meanings.

The reverb on my album is a mirror, which reflects the moods of my playing. But depending of the point of view, it reflects various, even opposing aspects of the music.


Side notes:

Yesterday I had a meeting about a cupola driven soundtrack that me and some other people will start working on really soon. More information later this spring!

I’m spending a lot of time thinking about sound collage, loops and materiality of sound for my forthcoming course at the University of the Arts. Will be posting notes on this as well.

Next: finishing the liner notes for RMfUT. Haven’t done much writing lately so this is the hard part!